These days you’d be hard-pressed to find a pregnant woman who isn’t aware of the fact that the things she eats, breathes and exposes herself to can impact her developing fetus. Whether the insult is in the form of cigarette smoke or high-mercury fish, pregnant women are increasingly sensitive to the health issues associated with environmental hazards and often go to great lengths to protect an unborn child.
This enlightened thinking, however, often ends when a baby is born. Parents are often entrenched in old habits or have never been informed otherwise; as a result, they unknowingly expose their little ones to toxic substances on a daily basis.
Infants are extremely susceptible to environmental toxicants: pound for pound they breathe in more air than adults; they’re continuously developing, leaving many windows of opportunity for outside exposures to affect their insides; and they can’t detoxify well. This means that using conventional cleaning products for jobs as innocent-seeming as getting stains out of a crib sheet, washing a baby bottle or cleaning a high chair can contribute to dermatitis, respiratory problems and even long-term health worries including cancer.
Well, the new year is upon us and it’s the perfect time to make changes. I know — you’ve already resolved to watch your waistline and get 8 hours of sleep a night. And while I can’t fully help you with those resolutions at the moment (other than to tell you that the package of Oreos is not actually calling your name and that you really don’t need to watch a midnight airing of “Wedding Crashers” again), I can definitely tell you what you need to easily “clean up and green up” a day in the life of your babe. So add that vow to your list – for the sake of your child – and his new year will be healthier for it.
Check out this collection of non-toxic, effective cleaning products you can easily buy for your home. As a rule, you should always test products in a small area before you use them freely. Once that goes well, you can go ahead and knock this New Years’ resolution out of the park.
One thing on which we can all agree – a new baby is messy business. From top to, uh, bottom, there’s no telling what a given day will bring. Without getting too detailed, that onesie that was so fresh first thing in the morning might be rather less so at night (or heck, even half an hour later). But baby stains can be quickly tackled in a safe and effective way with OxiClean Laundry Baby Stain Soaker. Follow the directions on the package for pretreating your baby’s clothes – you can even add it to the wash after soaking – and you’ll be able to salvage plenty of those adorable baby gifts.
As often as my mom told me to “nap when the baby naps,” I found that advice much easier said than done. That’s because when my children slept, I finally had time to get stuff done – stuff like laundry. So, once the baby is fast asleep, gather all those onesies, cloth diapers, crib sheets and hooded towels and throw them into the machine with non-toxic detergent. The Honest Co.’s 4-in-1 laundry packs provide safe, mineral-based cleaning without caustic ingredients. Another great company is Green Shield Organic. Their brand new Organic Baby Laundry Detergent – Free & Clear is unscented and free of dyes and harsh chemicals. So hurry up and get that laundry load in and then maybe you catch a few zzzzs…
Bottles and pacifiers are all the rage in a home with a new baby. I’ll admit, I’m a huge fan of nursing; I nursed my own 4 kids for a year each. But I also know that every mom’s story is different and that the majority of us will use bottles, whether often or sporadically (’cause hey, even the most diehard nursing moms want to go to the movies at some point, don’t they?!?!). So then begins the cycle of bottle using and washing, over and over again. According to many sources, including WebMD, if your water supply is reliably safe, there’s no need to regularly sterilize bottles, nipples and pacifiers after the first time. But there is a need to use non-toxic dish washing soap and warm water. For this, I recommend Better Life’s Dish It Out, scent-free dish soap. 100% plant derived, it’s a great choice for cleaning bottles (and all the dishes in your sink)! As for when the pacifier hits the floor? Check out Dapple’s Pacifier Wipes. They’re safe and convenient – great to use at home or on the go.
Your baby’s nursery should be a cozy, healthy space, free from harsh toxicants. So even if you’ve already chosen the organic crib mattress, natural rug and solid wood blocks, you need to make sure that you clean the room safely so that there’s no build-up of harmful chemicals in the air. Make sure that you open windows for ventilation and regularly use a Dry Swiffer dampened with a bit of water to get rid of dust on the entire floor. But when the cute striped area rug gets splattered on and the hardwood floor is really looking less than pristine, turn to Martha Stewart for help. Her Clean Carpet Stain Remover and Clean Wood Floor Cleaner can get you through those “spottier” days safely and easily.
Considering how often a baby will chow down as he’s growing up, you’re going to want to make sure that his highchair tray is so clean that he can, well, eat off of it. After a particularly “fun” meal, it’s often best to detach the tray, dump the leftovers and rub it down in the sink with Dish It Out or Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Pure-Castile Soap Baby Mild. But sometimes you just want to spritz, wipe and walk away. In that case, beware of conventional spray cleaners that can leave chemical residues that might get ingested by your child. So what to use? I can’t deny that a DIY formula of around 1 part distilled white vinegar to 7-9 parts water (no exact measurements required) will always be my favorite for its safety and efficacy. But, as your baby gets older and is exposed to the whole gamut of veggies and fruits, including citrus, you can use Aussan Natural Nursery All Purpose Cleaner. It’s botanical ingredients are highchair – and kid – friendly.